Pete Golding has drawn the ire of Alabama fans for almost the entirety of his tenure as the defensive coordinator of the Crimson Tide. Many are convinced that Golding's defense holds the team back. Since Golding took over, Alabama has missed the College Football Playoff twice and been blown out in the national championship game 44-16 by Clemson.

This year was no different for Golding. The Tennessee Volunteers were able to hang 52 points on the Tide defense, more than had been scored against Alabama in 115 years. The last team to hang 50 on the Crimson Tide was Sewanee in 1907, just 15 years into the program's existence. The Tide offense held up its end of the bargain and the team only lost by three points.

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Later in the season, the Tide defense allowed Jayden Daniels and the LSU offense to move down the field with ease with the game on the line twice; once at the end of regulation to take the lead and again in overtime. At the end of regulation, Daniels broke a 31-yard run to get into Alabama territory. In overtime, LSU scored on a 25-yard touchdown run from him. Fans felt that the quarterback run should have been the first thing Golding's defense was prepared for with Daniels.

Even in the Iron Bowl, a comfortable victory for Alabama this year, there was plenty to criticize about the defensive scheme Golding rolled out. Auburn started Robby Ashford, a young quarterback who struggles mightily with throwing the football, but can make magic happen with his legs. Logically, Alabama's game plan should have been to shut down the quarterback run and go from there. Nonetheless, Ashford ran all over the Tide for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

Across the board, the Tide defense has declined during Golding's tenure. This year, Alabama's total defense ranked 15th nationally, which is actually the third best of Golding's five seasons. They were 8th in 2021, 32nd in 2020, 16th in 2019, and 9th in 2018. Those numbers don't jump off the page as being terrible defenses, but Alabama has built its current dynasty on the backs of bone crushing, nationally feared defenses. It's been a long time since the school has actually fielded one of those.

Measuring by the same statistic of yards per game, Golding inherited a defense that had been ranked two, one, and two in the previous three years.

All of that makes the outrage of the fans fairly justified. Many have called for Golding to be relieved of his duties. "Fire Pete Golding" has been trending on Twitter multiple times during Alabama games over the last few seasons. However, Alabama cannot afford to lose Golding during this turbulent era of NIL and transfer portal for one reason - recruiting.

Golding is an elite recruiter. His ability to bring high profile talent in is unmatched by anybody other than Saban himself on the staff. Additionally, it is more important than ever as Alabama continues this year to hemorrhage talent into the transfer portal faster than it can bring it in. Since he took over as defensive coordinator, Alabama has had either the first or second ranked recruiting class.

Golding has been particularly good at poaching talent from the recruiting trails of Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and LSU in their home states. Golding famously landed the tight end seen in the awkward viral video of Brian Kelly dancing on a recruit, Danny Lewis, as well as Jaheim Oatis. Both have promising futures at the Capstone.

Some of the highlights of Golding's recruiting efforts in his time in Tuscaloosa include Drew Sanders, who looked like a first round NFL Draft pick after transferring to Arkansas,  Dallas Turner, Koll-Aid McKinstry, Deontae Lawson, and Eli Holstein, the potential successor to Bryce Young's crown.

It should go without saying that recruiting is the number one most important part of having a successful college football program. If Golding is the best recruiter in the Mal Moore complex, he needs to be kept around in spite of his defense only being above average, not elite.

You don't shove a recruiter of that level out the door unless they are an actively bad coach, and Golding isn't.

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